Category: stress

Got stuff?

Too Much Stuff and The Lure of Minimalism

As September approaches my pulse quickens and the list-making ramps up about 50 notches. So much coming at me at lightening speed, so much stuff to get organized!! Kids: get stuff for school; work: get stuff organized at work and pick up the stuff you said you would but forgot until this week; extra-curriculars: register for hockey and choir and make sure you have all the right sized stuff (Jesus god, you need new skates again?? Wtf.); farm: consider how much wood we will need to get split (ok, that’s a separate post…).

OMG we need so much stuff and we already have too much stuff! And what does it do? It causes me stress!! 

Coincidentally (or maybe it’s a cosmic intervention), I listened to a podcast this morning by The Minimalists. Basically The Minimalists are two 30 something American men who are making a living preaching about how to live a simpler life with less stuff. They have a lot to say, they have a lot of adulating fans. It’s a bit rich at times, but … I can learn from them. I DO have too much stuff. I hold on to old papers, memorabilia, art supplies, a few of the kids’ baby clothes (ya, I am going to make them a quilt, ok?), wool that is so scratchy or ugly that I’ll never make anything from it, scrapbooking tools (I was good at it …stop judging), CDs (sooooo many), electronics cables (in case I ever need a yellow / white / blue combo thingy), hot tub chemicals that I will NEVER use (jet cleaner? Whaaa??), gardening tools (ya, that’s funny I know), candle nubs … you get the picture. I have WAY WAY too much stuff in my house, my garage, my office … likely in the cabin too, which is pretty damned small. I have stuff that I don’t use or apparently need, … everywhere.  


So I have decided to get a grip on things by taking the 30 day Minimalist challenge. On the first day of September I have until midnight to throw away, donate or sell ONE item. On the second day, 2 items. On the third day, 3. You get the picture. If you do the math (and there is an algorithm for that…), that’s a shit ton of stuff that will be out of my life by the end of September. I know it will just be the tip of the iceberg, but it’s a way to start thinking about it and perhaps even making better choices (like stop buying so much stuff, ummmm ya think?).

Logistically I don’t know if I can ACTUALLY sell a few items on the day that I plan to sell them … but I can post them for sale. And logistically I’m not driving to Vinnie’s every day I when I decide what to donate – but I can box them and label them and put them in the garage. 

Wanna join me?? Comment if you’re in!! 

To demonstrate my commitment to the crusade for “less is more”, I tossed an old, ripped, and completely ineffective pair of oven mitts into the flames today. BE GONE, I SAY!! You will never cause me to burn my hands again!

Burning Oven Mitts
They burn so beautifully! (Only thing they ever did well…)

Crap Day for the Neighbours … and a Cake

Today Paul called to tell me that our neighbour’s place was on fire – he was jumping in his truck to go over. I grabbed my hat and coat and boots and booked it out the door.

First barn ignited.

When I was 18 I witnessed a cottage burning down, and not long after there was a huge fire at the Camp I worked at. The 2 events traumatized me at the time and instilled in me a healthy fear of fire. The fire today brought it all back. The sight, sound, heat, smell. The panic, the emotion.

After I woke up my next door neighbours, I ran across the road to see what I could do to help. Not much of course. I bawled a bit. I talked to each member of the family, let them know that they should come over for shelter, food, tea. Brought two of them to my place and found them clothes – one had a towel wrapped around his waist and another was in undies and a T-shirt. Eventually Em and her 4 month old settled in for the day.  Paul made a big stew and I got busy baking up a cake and a pan of brownies. People came and went through the day. It was an action packed day.

And of course today being Sunday … “traditional family dinner”… I was in charge of dessert. The plan was to make a lemon chiffon cake for my sister’s upcoming birthday. Here were the various stages.

It’s a rich, moist, light cake. Has a total of 14 eggs in it, and quite a bit of fresh lemon juice and butter. Whipped cream in the frosting and of course white chocolate grated on top. It’s a beauty!! Happy birthday Lou!

Here’s to a better day for my neighbours tomorrow.


photo credit for featured image: Harrison Perkins @HaPerkins

Trying to Chill

Last week my body freaked out on me. Even though the week felt to me like most other weeks, my body didn’t think so. It must have felt as though it was under attack because it produced a shitload of histamines and covered me with hives. Generally I think my body is pretty smart and does a great job looking after me, so obviously it was trying to tell me to chill the fuck out!!! The hives started out small then joined together into plaques (according to google, my dear friend). Soon enough hives were in my ears and through my hair, all over my torso and legs, and when I thought it was done, I woke up with swollen and beet red hands. They were ON FIRE.

Yes there was a lot going on – my Superintendent came to talk to me about my goals for the year (it’s an evaluation year), I had a busy schedule in the evenings with doctors appointments for the girls and shuttling to extra curriculars, there were lots of calls to various agencies about Bree, a situation with a student who ran away from a school trip and police had to be involved … and a 1/2 day Professional Development day to plan. It was a lot. Oh and a pot luck. Oh and a whole school trip to help coordinate. Not too much.

The fact that our entire school population can fit on two (crowded) buses … sweet.

But then I worked with staff on the PA day in an ice cold room. As I worked with them, my stress melted away. I think I gained so much peace and goodwill from them on Friday that my hives went away. I love my staff. We talked about First Nations peoples and the importance of recognizing the First Nations land that our school is on, our beliefs about our awesome little school, we marvelled over our students’ math thinking. It was all pretty great.

By the weekend I was hive free and thinking about how to prevent that from happening again. I think I need to get outside and breath in the air. I should be able to fit that in.

soon these trees will all be red and orange …

And so I had a fairly peaceful weekend – after getting Bree some new shoes and running the girls to various events, I managed to have a tea date with my good friend Alison, have dinner with Paul, do some baking and join a “traditional family dinner” at my mom’s. Paul got a ton of wood brought in (I helped a tiny bit…). Quite stress free!!

Favourite breakfast – date & ginger scone from the market and a chai tea latte.
Spies are for pies!! 
“There’s something slimy in my glove!” Paul had dropped his glove for a moment and a wee frog took advantage.

Now I’m well into another work week and despite the fact that today I was short 2/3 of my teaching staff, the Grade 7/8 kids had immunization shots, it was a Blue Jays theme day and the Director of our Board visited the school … no hives. So far so good!